During this approaching week, the Illinois Computing Educators Conference
, the big Midwest tech conference for teachers, administrators, technologists, and tech vendors will be taking place at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. I've attended this conference for the past 5 years, last year being the exception, when I was back in the classroom and very much out of the tech loop. This is a 4 day event, but Thursday and Friday is when teachers, administrators, and techcos attend. There are breakout sessions / workshops all day long after the morning keynote speaker, and a hall of vendors providing information about the latest technology innovations for the classroom, hoping that some of us will set up an appointment or purchase something then and there.
For several years, I brought some technology knowledge and product back to my school, as a result of a vendor demonstration or workshop. One year I saw great promise in Video on Demand by United Streaming
and Digital Curriculum, opened up trial accounts, and then convinced my school's business manager that it was something we could use at our school with more than 30% of our students labeled as Special Needs. We ended up using United Streaming in subsequent years with some degree of success, even though my principal never supported or promoted its use in the curriculum. I intuitively understood that integrating video that students could control, stop and play back, review again and again, with more traditional lecture, text, and notetaking addressed a variety of learning styles. Two years before I was removed from my TechCo position and placed back in the classroom, the result of our poor academic performance on standardized tests and the subsequent political shakeup imposed on us at Harper High School by Arne Duncan, our new Secretary of Educationand, I brought MyAccess
back from the conference. MyAccess is the premier writing program that corrects and provides immediate feedback to student writing. I managed to get two hundred licenses for a two months trial, and a year later, licenses for two teachers English classes for the entire year.
In the four years that I've attended the ICE Conference, I've heard David Warlick
(Landmarks for School), Will Richardson
(Weblogg-ed), Steve Dembo (Teach42)
, Adam Frey (co-founder of wikispaces
), and Hall Davidson
of Discovery Education, all leaders in the field of technology integration. talk about what they believe works to engage students. These are a few of the mavens of tech-ed revolution, who have inspired me. I've continued to learn by reading tech-ed books and tech-ed blogs, attending workshops, taking classes, and getting my MS in Ed with a Focus on Technology Integration in the Classroom.
I just know that technology integration is the hook that can hold our kids to the course content, but it requires ongoing professional development and the support of each school's administration. I expect this year's Conference to be inspiring and enlightening.